Derrick Lewis vs. Cyril Gane: UFC 265 Head-to-Toe Breakdown
UFC 265 goes down this Saturday in Houston, and the card will be topped by an attraction that certainly lives up to the old "everything's bigger in Texas" adage: an interim heavyweight title fight between prolific knockout artist Derrick Lewis and French sharpshooter Ciryl Gane.
Lewis will enter the cage on a four-fight streak, highlighted by a recent knockout win over Curtis Blaydes. The Houston native holds the record for the most knockouts in the history of the UFC heavyweight division.
Gane, on the other hand, comes from a muay thai background and is unbeaten in MMA at 9-0. His last six wins have all occurred in the UFC's Octagon. The most notable among those wins are his recent triumphs over Junior dos Santos, Jairzinho Rozenstruik and Alexander Volkov.
The interim title stakes of this fight have been almost universally panned—undisputed champ Francis Ngannou just fought in March and is only out of action because of a contract dispute with the UFC—but it remains an unendingly compelling matchup that could end any number of ways.
Who comes out on top? That's impossible to say without consulting a psychic, but a look at the two men's respective games does reveal some interesting insights.
Keep scrolling for a head-to-toe breakdown of this cage-shaking showdown in H-Town.
It admittedly feels ridiculous to suggest that anybody would be in an advantageous position while striking with Derrick Lewis, who could seemingly punch a planet out of its orbit, but that's the reality of this matchup. Ciryl Gane, who went unbeaten in a 13-fight muay thai career, is the far more technical striker of these two heavyweights.
If his commendable combat sports background isn't enough to convince you, the stats likely will be. Gane owns an impressive 54 percent striking accuracy rate in the UFC, compared to Lewis' 50 percent. He's also hard to hit, avoiding 63 percent of his opponents' strikes, while Lewis avoids just 44 percent.
Lewis, of course, has a definite edge in terms of raw power, but he's outmatched in terms of technique. There are no two ways about it.
Neither Lewis nor Gane is known for their wrestling. Both big boys prefer to do their fighting on the feet. For context, Lewis attempts a paltry 0.52 takedowns per 15 minutes, while Gane shoots for a not-much-better 0.82.
That being said, the wrestling advantage has to go to Gane. While Lewis' philosophy when it comes to wrestling seems to boil down to hoping he doesn't get taken down, and hoping he can get back up if he does, Gane has shown a willingness to use this part of the MMA arsenal to win fights.
In his early 2021 fight with Jairzinho Rozenstruik, for example, he completed two takedowns en route to a unanimous-decision win. Earlier in his career, he hit three takedowns on Don'Tale Mayes before winning by submission.
There's no comparing Gane to heavyweight wrestlers like Cain Velasquez and Daniel Cormier, but in this fight, he'll be the better wrestler in the cage.
As we've already covered, Lewis and Gane aren't exactly world-class grapplers. Once again, however, Gane would seem to have the edge in this department.
While he's been learning MMA for a far shorter period than Lewis, he seems to have taken to the grappling side of the game much more quickly than his rival. He's won a significant three of his nine fights in this fashion, including a front choke in his pro debut, an arm triangle choke in his UFC debut, and the aforementioned submission over Don'Tale Mayes—a heel hook.
If you need more convincing, consider this: In 32 pro fights, Lewis has won just once by submission, and in the 21 fights he's had in the UFC, he's never so much as attempted one.
This one's a no-brainer.
Lewis' X-Factor: Don't Wait
We all know Lewis has the power to separate any person—and probably most elephants—from their consciousness. Yet he also has a habit of hanging back and waiting for openings to throw, oftentimes doing little for rounds at a time.
That strategy has worked in the past—who could forget his 11th-hour knockout of Alexander Volkov—but it could get him into trouble against Gane. The longer he waits, the more comfortable Gane will get and the wider the Frenchman's lead will become.
Gane's X-Factor: Avoid the Kill Shot
Generally speaking, every fighter wants to avoid absorbing heavy offense, but it's a whole different ball game against Lewis. The Houstonian's power seems to defy physics. Gane may have every technical advantage in this fight, but even a millisecond of poor decision-making could cost him this fight. His defense needs to be flawless from beginning to end.
One can never feel confident picking against a guy like Derrick Lewis, who has the power to erase technical and statistical disadvantages in an instant. That being said, all the information available suggests Gane will walk away with the interim heavyweight title at UFC 256.
Look for the Frenchman to land substantially more than Lewis—and maybe pepper in a takedown or two for good measure—en route to a clear-cut win.
Prediction: Gane by unanimous decision
Unless otherwise noted, all stats in this article are per UFC Stats